Birders and biologists are flocking to Shelby County, Alabama after a rare yellow cardinal was spotted. Photos of the bird popped up on social media when resident Charlie Stephenson spotted it in her backyard feeder.
Geoffrey Hill, a biology professor at Auburn University, says the cardinal is an adult male and comes from the same species as the red cardinal. The only difference is that he carries a genetic mutation that causes his feathers to be bright yellow instead of red. Professor Hill has written books on bird coloration, but says he’s never seen this type of color mutation before.
So how rare is a yellow cardinal? "I would estimate that in any given year there are two or three yellow cardinals at backyard feeding stations somewhere in the U.S. or Canada,” Professor Hill says. "There are probably a million bird feeding stations in that area so very very roughly, yellow cardinals are a one in a million mutation.”